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WINSTON SMITH3353 -
Good print and sound. Sympathetic screenplay by John Steinbeck. He had a great love for the Mexican peasant. This film encouraged him to write and produce _The Pearl_ on the Gulf Coast of Mexico shortly afterwards. Burgess Meridith narration. Two wonderful old school progressives.
Well preserved black & white tone and texture. Cinematography by Alexander Hackensmid taken from the original 35mm nitrate print. Angles, closeups, and rural scenery were caught with great sensitivity. I've never heard of Hackensmid until this viewing and he has the look I love in old B&W film. I will be looking for more of his work. Thank you Internet Archive for finding such a great copy and preserving this cinematographer's work.
This is an excellent documentary and accurately depicts the dress, habitat, techno-cultural, and mindset of the Mexican peasant in 1941 which had not progressed perceptively since the early 1800s.
The contrast of the rural peasant walking the streets of Mexico City among contemporary urbanites is very informative of the time and the initial apathy for the village's plight is a coherent portrayal of the inherited old-world class order (Spaniard blood purity vs. native ancestry), which still exists today in many former Spanish colonies.
For those critics who have said that this was an unrealistic portrayal of peasant resistance against modern medicine in 1941, I challenge them to visit the more remote villages in Haiti in 2012. Today, one can meet up against the same obstacles of fear and ignorance (formidably backed up by the local voodoo priest and the latest generation of armed Touton Macoute, in place of the old shaman woman)in the fight against AIDS. I've been there. From what I've seen, I doubt this is a work of "ethno-fiction" as described by some critics. (I also doubt if these same critics had ever left their typewriters in LA or NYC to venture into the world beyond the best hotels, beaches and golf courses of Cuba and Mexico.)
I highly recommend this film as a realistic historical and cultural document portrayed in beautiful photography. Written and narrated by two of America's bravest liberal artists. Definitely 5 stars.
Dr Feel Rotten -
Subject: It's as real then as it is today.
Today we have millions who think all they have to do is to pray to an invisible man in the sky to cure all illnesses and who will also ride in on a white horse to make everyone prosperous and turn us into a concurring land worthy of "the gods".
How pathetic people really are even today.
Subject: Get this iPod Movie
You can get this movie for your iPod at http://www.ipod-lounge.com
Subject: Openly and unapologetically progressive
This is a movie by John Steinbeck. It was filmed in 1941, in the mountains of Mexico. It has no actors, only real local people. With the exception of the village teacher, none of them had ever seen a movie. It is a good movie, but that is not the only reason why I recommend it. The other reason is that Steinbeck was of a kind one doesn't often meet today, in this age of cultural conservatism --- an overt and unapologetic progressive. This is an unusual and unfashionable movie.
This is Hans Eisler!!
Famous German composer, see Brechts Kuhle Wampe etc.
Christine Hennig -
Subject: Culture Clash Between Traditional and Modern Ways
This sensitively-done 30s documentary tells the story of Juan Diego, a young man who lives in a tiny Mexican village, where people live a traditional rural lifestyle that has changed little over thousands of years. The only link with the outside world is JuanÂs schoolteacher, who gives the village children a bit of knowledge of the modern world. When the children of JuanÂs village start sickening and dying in droves, Juan goes to his teacher for help. The teacher suspects that the village well is spreading an infectious disease, and he encourages Juan to go to a nearby city and get a public health team to come and help. Unfortunately, the villagers rely on a local medicine woman for healthcare, and they are extremely hostile to new ideas. When Juan returns with the medical team, most of the families hide their sick children from them, and when they try to disinfect the well, the villagers accuse them of poisoning it. In desperation to cure his seriously ill younger sister (he already lost a brother to the illness), Juan sneaks her to the medical team in the middle of the night to get her an injection of a curative serum, but his father catches him afterwards and orders him to leave the village and never return. The medical team, however, make arrangements for Juan to attend a special school for young people who want to bring modern medicine to their villages. They reassure Juan that change happens slowly, and that it will be young people like him who will finally bring such changes about. This is an intelligent and sensitive film that is not too hard on the villagers who reject the medical teamÂs interventions. This makes it more enlightened than youÂd expect for the time it was made. Of course, by todayÂs standards, it has some problemsÂÂit gives no context for the villagersÂ suspiciousness of outsiders coming in and trying to change their ways, which may encourage audience members to think of them as just ignorant and stubborn. And it shows no downside to modernity, whereas from todayÂs perspective we know that modern ways, with their medical miracles and conveniences, have a tendency to destroy traditional ways of life, leaving little for poor rural people to take its place. Still, this film is a wonderful documentation of those ways of life, as well as providing a historically interesting snapshot of public health practices in Mexico during the 30s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.
Subject: but is it a true account?
The critic,Richard Griffith, in his book"the film till now" has described this film as " an arty and unreal account of Mexican education and superstition". However I enjoyed this documentary film for its splendid b/w photography, narration and music. It is based on John Steinbeck,s book.